I think we’ve all come to terms with the fact that a zombie apocalypse is inevitable, right? Current pop culture worships at the zombie altar even with all the books and movies out there warning us of our impending doom at the hands—and jaws—of those fiendish flesh-eaters. If some virus doesn’t cause this outbreak, then surely our willing it to happen will bring it on.
And although you might think you’re prepared for this epidemic, thanks to your dog-eared copy of The Zombie Survival Guide along with multiple viewings of Shaun Of The Dead, let’s face it, your greatest chance of survival depends mostly on your ability to make split-second decisions. Do you make a run for it or try to face your zombie attacker mano-a-mano? Do you reach for a nearby baseball bat or go out of your safety zone in hopes of grabbing a gun? These are decisions that may cost you your life.
So, if you ever wondered how you’d react during a zombie outbreak, now’s your chance to not only find out, but also change your mind if your initial reaction turns out badly, with the choose-your-adventure novel Zombocalypse Now.
Written by Matt Youngmark, Zombocalypse Now sets up a scenario in one or two pages that will pit you against some sort of zombie attack. If you’re unfamiliar with the format, at the end of the set-up, you get to choose which way to go with your adventure (on average, there’s usually two choices). From there you’ll be directed to another page within the book, where you’ll once again be faced with more choices. After a few page turns of this, you’ll discover how all of your decisions paid off with a finite ending.
Yes, typically, you’ll meet your maker—that’s implied right on the book cover—but there is still hope. Apparently there are at least seven endings in the book where you don’t end up as a zombie happy meal. Ok, not so great odds, but did you really think all that zombie survival prep would pay off? But knowing that there is a fighting chance is what draws you back to this book, long after you’ve managed to die already in 20 or so different ways.
While humans have been fascinated by their own predators for decades, it wasn’t really till we found of the thought of being devoured by zombies humorous that we came to love them so dearly. Zombocalypse Now has that humor going for it, especially by having a pink stuffed animal bunny act out all of your decisions. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ll tell you a little secret: Even though I saw the pink bunny with a bloodied chainsaw right on the cover, and the opening illustration is of a bunny, and page 2 clearly states that the protagonist is indeed a stuffed bunny, by page 3 I had already forgotten that a bunny was doing my bidding. And let me tell you, that bunny has the makings of a big-screen action hero!
Aside from having you combat zombies as a fluffy pink stuffed bunny, Youngmark also gives you the ability to quip like Bruce Campbell. In one scenario, as you grab a chainsaw on display at a hardware store, you have enough wits to add insult to injury to your would-be zombie attacker with this kind of zinger: “Sorry sweetheart...you don’t make the cut.”
Youngmark apparently knows what he’s doing here and who his audience is, because at one point, he even allows you to flip to which “badass” remark you’d make next.
I know that the choose-your-own adventure format is typically geared towards children, and growing up in the 1980s, I can tell you, they were pushing these down our little throats back then. But while Zombocalypse Now fits the format and will make you laugh, it’s definitely for the grown-ups. It’s good fun without all the commitment of having to sit down to read the entire book in one sitting, though don’t be surprised if you become so obsessed with surviving that you just keep going back to pick different scenarios. Although there’s no need to remember what happened the last time you picked the book up, you most likely will. I found myself picking a few adventures, then putting the book down; a few weeks later, just grabbing it again to kill some time while waiting for some water to boil, and let me tell you, I knew right away I was NOT going to turn to page 166 again!
If no-win (well, almost always no-win) scenarios and zombies! are what you crave, look no further than to Zombocalypse Now to satiate your hunger.
An excerpt from the book, which made Geeks of Doom’s 2009 Geek Read list, is available now at Chooseomatic Books. For a chance to win one of five copies of Zombocalypse Now, enter Geeks of Doom’s Geek Read Contest and be sure to put the words “Tor.com” in the “Additional Comments” field of the entry form to double your chances of winning.
Eve Conte is the editor of Geeks of Doom, a source for all things geek. She loves comic books, heavy metal, and potato chips. She wouldn’t last one minute in the zombie apocalypse.